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Aussie teams power up on home grown technology

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Media Release 

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Australian teams competing in the Cruiser Class of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC) in October this year will be packing a power-filled punch under their solar hoods when they line up on the starting grid, thanks to technology developed in Brisbane.

Clenergy Team Arrow, one of Australia’s most successful solar electric racing teams, has drawn on its BWSC experience to invent, through its spin-off commercial arm Prohelion, a specialist, high-powered, ultra-lightweight, lithium battery ‘power pack’ with an emphasis on performance and safety.

The first to receive this potentially game-changing technology against the world’s best, outside of ‘camp Arrow’, is the new five-state, national, Australian Technology Network (ATN) Solar Car Team.

At the official hand-over on Wednesday 23 January, Cameron Tuesley, Team Arrow Founder and Managing Director of IT provider, Integral, where Prohelion is headquartered, said from the beginning, the vision has been to commercialise and share energy solutions beyond his own team.

‘What we’re attempting is to deliver practical battery systems that could make their way into the mainstream. By collaborating with teams like the ATN Solar Car Team and using a 3,000-kilometre event as a live proving ground, we can demonstrate just how good our local tech is,’ Mr Tuesley said.

‘Safety is paramount, it’s not simply a matter of hooking up hundreds of lithium-ion batteries to get optimum power to your vehicle. These power packs are fully integrated with inbuilt Battery and Cell Management Units with software, control, cooling and safety systems to keep things on track,’ he said.

Andrew Carr, Systems Engineer for the ATN Solar Car Team and IT and Electrical Engineering Student from Queensland University of Technology, said as a first-time team, he and his ATN Solar Car teammates quickly identified battery pressure points and the potential benefits of working with a supplier who had a track record of both safety and success.

‘Working together across the country, the ATN Solar Car Team is all about collaboration. Our model is practical research and real-world industry knowledge working alongside student innovation. We don’t need to design a battery system from scratch if there’s already an ideal solution – it just makes sense to work together,’ Mr Carr said.

‘We want to show that Australian manufacturing, technology and inventiveness can match with the big-budget teams on a global scale. We think the Prohelion Power Pack is an important part of our BWSC journey’ Andrew said.

BWSC Event Director, Chris Selwood said he was delighted Australian teams were collaborating. The Cruiser Class has always been about taking this technology to everyday vehicles, and here we have some of the best minds in Australia working to make that a reality.

On The Road and Settled in

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On Sunday we had a clear run out of Darwin with one of the best and smoothest challenge departures yet. We even managed to strategically overtake the overall pole position holder and maintain first place for a good half hour.

Since then, we have been overtaken by a number of strong international teams which have opted for an aggressive early strategy. Instead, we have decided to maintain our carefully planned and tested strategy which will hopefully give us a competitive advantage further down the track.

We had Jason our newest driver in the car on the afternoon of the first day. He tackled his first road train with ease and is well on his way to being a seasoned veteran.

By the end of the day, we finished in 8th place in our category and as the first Australian team in any of the classes. We are very happy with our progress, with the car handling better than 2013 and the team operating fantastically. Although we finished the first day in the same spot we stopped 2 years ago, we did so considerably earlier and in an overall better position.

Our second day started earlier than expected after a preventative service of the car late on the first night led to a last minute rush in the early hours of the morning to solve a number of small potential problems with which could have severely impacted our racing outcome. This included designing and 3D printing a critical part from scratch around 1:30 am in the morning. Thanks to some fantastic teamwork the new part was mounted on the car and tested by just over 2 am.

After a brief sleep for the Mechanical team, the car was charged and the fleet left at 8am on the dot. Thanks to the preventative work done by the Mechanical team, the car performed phenomenally well, even with high winds in several directions. Some members of the team say that the day was boring, but that’s exactly the way we want it. No panic, no drama… nice and smooth.

We are currently predicting some worsening of the weather as we head down towards Alice Springs. In anticipation of this, our strategy team is working strongly to determine the best way for Arrow1-GT to continue her southward journey.

We have currently setup camp just past the Barrow Creek control stop. This is roughly 2 hours ahead of our last attempt at the World Solar Challenge. Our team has eaten and the tents are up. With a quick tyre change underway to ensure we are in peak condition, we are looking forward to passing the halfway point of Alice Springs tomorrow morning.

The World Solar Challenge website has an online GPS tracker setup where you can follow us along our route.http://www.worldsolarchallenge.org/dashboard/map

A quick peak of this link tonight showed that we are only 2 hours behind the leaders, with two teams not that far in front, and two not far behind. We still believe we are in the mix despite the less than optimal conditions predicted over the next few days.

With work still to be done, it is best we get back to it. There’s still 1500 Kms to go!